Fundraising is an important job for all Psi Chi chapters. After all, induction ceremonies, chapter projects, and the national service project all cost money. Where will the money come from? Some chapters have had success by utilizing alumni --to solicit donations or to help raise money from other Psi Chi alumni members. Other chapters have used direct fundraising. The Saint Vincent Chapter of Psi Chi has had tremendous success for the past three years with a "Freshman basket sale," selling over 130 baskets this year. At a profit of approximately $5 per basket, our sale brought in over $600 in chapter funds! In this article I describe our sale and the reasons for our success.
[left] Chapter Member Margaret Govero gets the post-its ready to put in the gift boxes.
The idea for the freshman basket sale grew out of sales of "finals survival baskets"--baskets of food sold and delivered during final exams as offered by some colleges. Most finals survival baskets are produced and sold by corporations that mass produce the baskets. However, the Saint Vincent baskets are prepared by Psi Chi members, so we are able to put more food and supplies into our baskets.
Table 1 is a summary of the timeline we use during our freshman basket sale. We time our basket sale around our midterm break for two reasons. First, we can use the last day of break to shop for supplies. Our shopping trip typically requires anywhere from 3-5 hours to purchase supplies, transport them, and get the supplies stored for later basket assembly. Using the last afternoon of midterm break ensures that students' night classes are not disrupted. Second, we time our sale around midterm break because it occurs about two weeks before Halloween, allowing us to purchase Halloween novelties like pencils and trick-or-treat bags for the baskets. The Halloween novelties help to make our baskets unique.
Note that Saint Vincent Psi Chi sells baskets only to parents of freshman students. Selling baskets only to freshman students has two advantages. First, we have found that freshman parents are more likely to buy the baskets compared to parents of sophomore, junior, and senior students. Second, selling baskets only to freshman students keeps the number of baskets we have to assemble at a reasonable level.
Figure 1 shows a copy of the letter sent this year to freshman parents. We include a response card in the letter so that parents can write to their student a personal message, which parents return with their check. The response card (see Figure 2) was produced on a desktop computer using desktop publishing software (Personal Press 2.0 for the Mac), and we obtained the "ghoulish" fonts from the Internet for a nominal shareware fee. Although we used commercially prepared graphics, you can find some graphics on the Internet. We also scanned, then reduced, the Psi Chi logo for the back of the response card.* And if your chapter doesn't have access to desktop publishing software, most word processing packages will easily accommodate graphics.
Table 2 is a list of the basket contents for our most recent basket sale. As you can see, we include a large number of food items, school supplies, and novelties, all of which are purchased for an average cost of about $9.50 per basket. Buying in bulk really does help keep our costs down, and we can include a large number of items in each basket. We purchase the food items and school supplies at a discount store (Sam's Club) and the novelties from the Oriental Trading Company. The Oriental Trading Company has a wide range of novelties for all seasons and holidays at very reasonable prices.
The "packers." In front, from left: Lisa Leyda, chapter president; Jackie Parrish; Jaclyn Moran; Lara Zadzilko; Natalie Wayock; Amy Jancaro, treasurer; and Margaret Govero. In back, from left: Brandon Gaudiano, communications secretary; Mark Statler; Courtney Howe;Heather Smith; Antonia "Toni" Mancino (vice-president); Anne Budd (one of the sale cochairs); and Jamie Kunkle.
Assembling 100 or more baskets can be quite a task, but we try to make the job fun. We have pizza, cookies, soft drinks, and chips, as well as a movie or music to make basket assembly a fun job. Depending on the number of Psi Chi members who are available, we can set up, assemble the baskets, and clean up in about two hours on a Saturday afternoon. If your chapter decides to try a basket sale, don't forget about the cleanup! There will be boxes, bags, plastic wrap, and pizza boxes that have to be taken somewhere. You may even find that cleanup takes more time than assembly.
A perk for Psi Chi members who help assemble the baskets is the leftover supplies. You will find that some items are packaged in sets of 12, 18, 20, or 24. It's rare that the total number of items you need is evenly divisible by the number of items in a set. The "rule" in the Saint Vincent Psi Chi Chapter is that whatever supplies are left after all the baskets are assembled can be claimed by the Psi Chi members. The competition for Rice Krispie bars can get pretty fierce!
The Saint Vincent Freshman Basket Sale is successful for three reasons. First, Saint Vincent has a large resident population. Approximately 80% of the students live on campus and parents are more likely to buy baskets for their students when they live on campus. Second, the sale is successful because we have no competition. Other baskets are sold on campus, but only during finals. The Psi Chi basket sale is the only sale at midterms. Last, the sale is successful because it is low risk. The chapter does not have to expend any money in advance to purchase basket supplies; we wait until the money for the baskets arrives. And because we do not assemble baskets in advance, we do not have to worry about whether or not we will sell all the baskets.
The most important thing we have learned from past sales is to use first-class mail to send the letters to parents. Last year we tried to limit costs and used third-class mail. It was a disaster. Parents were getting our letters a week or more after we had delivered the baskets! If your chapter decides to send letters--whether it be to parents, current members, or alumni--use first-class mail. The extra postage cost will save you a huge headache later. Good luck!
CAPTION: Chapter President Lisa Leyda and Mark Statler show off their stash of "goodies" from the sale leftovers.
* The Psi Chi logo and seal can now be downloaded from the Psi Chi National Website and then imported into word processing or page layout programs: www.psichi.org/downloads/home.asp.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kirsten L. Rewey, PhD, is an associate professor of psychology at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa. Dr. Rewey was inducted into Psi Chi in 1984 at Saint Mary's University of Minnesota where she earned her bachelor's degree in 1985. Dr. Rewey completed her doctorate at Texas Christian University in 1990 and completed a two-year postdoctorate at Vanderbilt University's Learning Technology Center before joining Saint Vincent College in 1993.
Dr. Rewey is also an active Psi Chi member. She helped found the Saint Vincent College Psi Chi Chapter in 1995 and has served as faculty advisor since then. In addition, she is a reviewer for the Psi Chi Journal of Undergraduate Research and has attended the last three Psi Chi miniconventions. Dr. Rewey has also helped several students publish their original research in the Psi Chi Journal and present their research at regional psychology meetings.
In her spare time Dr. Rewey enjoys watching 'cheesy' movies, reading science fiction, and making soap.
Author note. Address all correspondence concerning this article to Kirsten L. Rewey, PhD, Department of Psychology, Saint Vincent College, 300 Fraser Purchase Road, Latrobe, PA 15650; telephone: (724) 539-9761, ext. 2375; fax: (724) 537-4554; e-mail: email@example.com.
Spring 1999 issue of Eye on Psi Chi (Vol. 3, No. 3, pp. 40-43), published by Psi Chi, The National Honor Society in Psychology (Chattanooga, TN). Copyright, 1999, Psi Chi, The National Honor Society in Psychology. All rights reserved.